London, June 16 : In a shocking revelation highlighting music piracy amongst youngsters, a new survey has found that on an average, teenagers and students carry over 800 illegally copied songs each on their iPods.
The largest academic survey of young people's music ownership has found that fifty percent of 14 to 24-year-olds were willing to share all the music they have on their hard drives, which would allow others to copy a large number of songs at any one time.
The magnitude of the problem revealed by the University of Hertfordshire research has taken the music industry by surprise, despite widespread proliferation of illegal copying.
The average digital music player, carrying 1,770 songs, has 842 illegally copied songs, making 48 per cent of the collection as illegally copied.
"I was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs I had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected," Times Online quoted Fergal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and now chief executive of British Music Rights, as saying.
Amongst youngsters in the age-group of 14 -17 years, the ratio of illegally downloaded tracks is 61 percent and 14 per cent of CDs (one in seven) in a young person's collection are also copied illegally.
While the rate of illegal copying in some form for 18 to 24-year-olds is 96 per cent, as compared to 89 per cent of those aged 14-17. While almost two thirds of youngsters copy CDs from friends, almost the same number of teenagers share songs by e-mail and copy all the music held on another person's hard drive, making them stock up to 10,000 songs in one go.
However, British Music Rights has debated that the solution partly lies in developing new legal services that would make breaking copyright unappetizing.
"The positive message is that 80 per cent of downloaders said they would pay for a legal subscription-based service, and they told us they would be willing to pay more than a few pounds a month," said Sharkey.
Though, the British Music Rights has refused to disclose the exact amount but it is believed to be about 10 pounds per month. The organisation is leaving no stone unturned to help the record companies to convince internet service providers for taking up a new type of music service, where a large number of songs are available for an add-on fee to a broadband package.
In fact, they are already expecting agreements with providers such as Virgin Media in the next few weeks.